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Country Hits - The Very Best of Wynn Stewart & Jan Howard

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Album Review

Wynn Stewart and Jan Howard both recorded for Challenge Records in the late '50s and early '60s, during which time they cut several duets. The title of Varese Sarabande's 2004 compilation, The Very Best of Wynn Stewart & Jan Howard, suggests that this 18-track disc focuses solely on the duets, but there weren't enough duets to fill a collection of this size (in fact only one song — "Wrong Company" — hit the Billboard country charts). Instead, it collects four of those duets ("Wrong Company," "We'll Never Love Again," "How the Other Half Lives," "Yankee Go Home"), six solo singles by Stewart, and eight tracks by Howard. While there are Stewart compilations available — a comprehensive box set on Bear Family and Varese itself has an excellent single-disc collection of hits — Howard has yet to have her singles reissued on CD, so this release is quite welcome. Even if it effectively uses the better-known Stewart songs to sell the record, that's fine because Howard is a strong straight-ahead hardcore country singer, and the sides collected here are excellent, unheralded pure honky tonk with a Bakersfield tinge, worth acquiring even if you already own a Stewart collection or two.


Born: 07 June 1934 in Morrisville, MO

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Wynn Stewart was one of the leading figures of West Coast country music, developing in the early '50s the style that would later become known as the Bakersfield sound. Along with Tommy Collins and Buck Owens, Stewart stripped down the sound of honky tonk, taking away the steel guitars and relying on electric instruments, a driving beat, and loud, energetic performances. For most of the late '50s and early '60s, Stewart released a series of independent singles that performed respectably yet failed...
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Country Hits - The Very Best of Wynn Stewart & Jan Howard, Wynn Stewart
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